SEARCH WARRANTS---A BASIC PRIMER
This guide will educate you and give an introduction on the beginning basics of search warrants. This guide applies to all criminal cases including, DWI, DUI and drug cases.
Basic Concepts of Search WarrantsSearch warrants are governed by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Law section 41 and New York Criminal Procedure Law 690. The reason why a judge is required to obtain a warrant is that a neutral person who is presumably detached from the case must decide whether there is probable cause to search. Otherwise, without a judge, the government would have unfettered discretion to search the person and property of all citizens without adequate factual and/or legal justification.
Once property is seized by the government pursuant to a search warrant, a police officer (or other law enforcement agent) must, without unnecessary delay, return to the court with property and must file a written inventory of the property.
The warrant application may be made in writing or orally. The affidavit in support of the warrant must be made by a public servant (e.g., a police officer, an assistant district attorney or another public servant). Moreover, there must be reasonable cause (aka probable cause) to believe that a certain type of property can be found in a certain place and there must be facts to support that assertion.
When executing a warrant, there must be reasonable effort by the police to give notice of their authority and purpose and a copy of the warrant must be shown to the person whose premises it is upon request. If the police are not admitted after they knock and give notice of their authority and purpose, then the police may use whatever force is necessary in order to execute the warrant.
Special Requests in Search WarrantsSpecial requests in warrants: That the warrant be executed at any time---day or night. If there is reasonable cause to believe that the warrant cannot be executed between 6 AM and 9 PM or that the property could be destroyed, a warrant dictating that it may be executed at any time of day might be issued. A "no-knock warrant" gives authority to the police to enter a premises without knocking and without giving notice of their authority and purpose. This type of warrant is issued if the police have reasonable cause to believe that the property sought may be easily destroyed or that someone is in danger (the police officer or someone else). If there is a chance of physical destruction of property or serious injury to a person, a "no knock" warrant may be issued.